Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Could Use a Hug After Last Post

Neat "free hugs" campaign.

Watch HERE!

Disgusting Dining

Warning! The content of this video is graphic and may/should be disturbing to most viewers. Watch at your own risk!

According to the information provided by the YouTube subscriber, Chinese chefs have developed a way to deep-fry fish without killing them. Subsequently, diners can enjoy their favourite deep-fried fish while it is still alive and writhing (in pain) on their plate. If this weren't designed as a professional blog, the next few sentences consist of profanities.

Firstly, I have to ask how any person, in their right mind, would enjoy eating moving food? If we (as humans) are going to claim that we are separated from the animal world because of our compassion and etiquette, we are certainly not exercising those traits in this instance. Animals eat their food live because they have no other choice. We do!

Secondly, not only would it be extremely painful for the animal to go through a deep-fryer without succumbing to death, but to put it under the knife immediately afterwards seems purely cruel. It boggles my mind. How can someone feel okay about eating something that is experiencing undue and unnecessary torture?

Ultimately, this fish is a living, breathing, feeling creature. Let's put ourselves in the fish's shoes/fins for a second, here. You've been scooped from the ocean/lake to become someone's dinner. That, alone, is a fate none of us would be too thrilled about. However, your troubles have only just begun. You are kept alive on the way to your restaurant destination, where chefs deep fry your body in some new fashion that allows you to survive. The scalds and burns on 90% of your body are excruciating and you simply want to be put out of your misery. This seems bad enough, but no, it's not over yet! Now you are garnished and put on a plate for someone to tear and consume your flesh before your eyes.

We call animals barbaric and lacking intelligence. Yet, things like this make US look barbaric. How are we any different or better than the animals we call savage when we do things like this?

I was a vegetarian for seven years and have only recently returned to the world of meat-eating. I am not saying that eating meat is atrocious, but this kind of behaviour is cruel and unusual. Ultimately, it is inhumane. The word "human" is the root-word of the word "humane" and, according to, "takes into account only the nobler or gentler aspects of people and is often contrasted to their more ignoble or brutish aspect. A humane person is benevolent in treating fellow humans or helpless animals; the word once had also connotations of courtesy and refinement."

This behaviour is completely unrefined and certainly brutish. We cannot expect to separate ourselves from the savage animal world if we are unwilling to rise above it. Bottom line, this is vile.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Love and Let Live

Today, I came across a quote on love which I found to be quite profound. It read “The beginning of love is to let those we love be just themselves, and not to twist them with our own image. Otherwise, we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.”

I believe this to be true, but I feel it does not end with the beginning of love. It is said that familiarity breeds contempt. I understand that, but I also wonder why that is. Why is it that we are so careful about how we come across to complete strangers and, yet, we are willing to hurt those we love?

As a child of 23, I have been in and out of love. I have loved strongly and deeply and these small, but poignant quotes have quite an effect on me. Many people, myself included, constantly try to mould others into something that fits them. In reality, this is making them into something they are not, to better suit you. THIS breeds contempt.

No matter how much you love someone, you cannot and should not expect them to change for you or for anyone, for that matter. We are told, as children, that we should be ourselves and then, in love, we find ourselves trying to change for others. The simplest of rules, “be yourself,” suddenly becomes a challenge. We play a sort of masquerade, searching for the right personality to capture the object of our desire.

When we play this game, we inevitably sink into cycle of resentment. When you live your life for someone else, you regret. The regrets may not be instantaneous. It may take a while for the resentment to come out, but it will. These things, I know.

As I sit here and read my words which I know to be true, I wonder how I can preach so much and practice so little. We are all guilty of it. I see that I must embrace all the quirks and differences of the people I love because that is why I love them in the first place. If they were to change, love would change.

Lastly, I know this: “When the door of happiness closes, another opens but oftentimes we look so long at the closed door that we don’t see the one which has opened for us.” Let all your open doors be seen and all your love be pure.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Why are you complaining?

This morning, I came across an article in the Hamilton Spectator about a group of parents from Calgary who have managed to persuade their lawyers to ban homework at the schools of their children.

The parents and their lawyers are arguing that their children "were suffering from the stress of balancing sporting events with elaborate home projects assigned by their teachers." While I agree that children in elementary schools should not be bombarded with what they are calling "excessive amounts of homework" every night, I think the idea of completely banning homework is absurd for several reasons.

Firstly, as a caregiver, I recognize the importance of getting children to focus on something productive for a portion of their after school routine. Parents, like any caregiver, are likely returning home from a hard day's work around the time that children would be performing their scholarly duties, and need this time to prepare dinner or simply wind down. This concept of no homework completely removes any realm of possibility for these necessary actions unless parents would rather plop their children in front of the television. Hence, the title of this post: Why are you complaining? I don't understand why these parents are upset with the idea of children doing something school-oriented with a portion of their free time as opposed to watching television or strictly enjoying play time.

On another note, learning to cope with multiple tasks is a valuable experience for children. Although it would be foolish to expect them to deal with "excessive amounts of homework" on a nightly basis, this 'homework time' is an invaluable lesson for the future. If students are to excel later in life, they will need to learn the work ethic that success requires. From a post-secondary perspective, in particular, there is no one there to hold your hand every step of the way. Developing a strong work ethic from a young age is vital to achievement later in life.

Ultimately, I feel these parents are providing their children with an unrealistic learning atmosphere. They will be put at a disadvantage when paired up with students from other schools later in their academic careers because they will not understand the importance of work outside school. Nothing in life is free and these parents are not teaching their children that important message. I certainly believe that down time is important, but completely banning homework from school altogether seems a very regressive learning strategy indeed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Official Supplier of Sleep?

Without a doubt, Canadians are excited about the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games, and with good reason. However, when companies begin to monopolize on them, it starts to push my buttons.

For example, I was watching the news this evening, and a commercial for Sleep Country came on. Everyone's favourite spokesperson, Christine Magee, discussed the droves of athletes that will make their way to Vancouver in the new year and emphasized the importance of their rest.

At the end of the commercial, she says "We're Sleep Country, the official supplier of sleep for the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Games." Official supplier of sleep? Come on. Sleep Country doesn't supply sleep. They supply mattresses.

Using something as exciting as the Olympic Games to push your products that have little, if anything, to do with them is not going to make me, or any person in their right mind, run out to buy a Sleep Country mattress. It's not as if we're going to say to ourselves "Oh, Sleep Country is the official supplier of sleep for the Vancouver Olympic Games? Well then, I have to be sleeping on whatever all those Olympic athletes are sleeping on. Christine've done it again!"

If anything, this marketing ploy makes me NOT want to buy a Sleep Country mattress. Perhaps if they geared their commercials towards something with the slightest bit of relevance, I might take notice, but until then, this girl will stick with her Beautyrest.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lest We Forget

I remember, fondly, the days of elementary school when we would gather in our tiny gymnasium to pay homage to those soldiers who so bravely gave their lives for the freedoms we take for granted everyday. We would carry wreaths and crosses adorned with tissue paper shaped like poppies and recite "In Flander's Fields." An entire morning, if not more, was dedicated to remembering and honouring our ancestors and war veterans. I recall spending weeks in preparation for this day and I would proudly wear my poppy over my heart.

As the years of my childhood passed and I slowly but surely made the transition into highschool and, eventually, University, this day became somewhat elusive. Highschool Remembrance Day mornings would include a ceremonial bag pipe rendition and a moment of silence over the announcement system. Then, in University, nothing at all.

I understand the importance of teaching our children to remember and honour our dead. They are impressionable and their innocence allows them to take life as something playful. We need to teach them that their freedoms and rights were paid for dearly. It seems, however, that as we grow older we, too, forget these things. Less emphasis is put on the importance of this day. We may have a moment of silence, here and there, but there are no images, no recitals of poems, no carrying of crosses. We simply expect that people will pay tribute in their own special way when, in reality, they likely won't. Remembrance Day becomes just another day in our calendar.

So, this year, in my effort to pay my respects, I will recite that poem by John McCrae that was once so vivid in my vocabulary. I will remember.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly

Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

H1N1: Is it a hoax?

With all the hype surrounding H1N1, I figured I would blog about the flu. A few months ago, I received an email from my father that raised questions about whether or not the flu was being overblown. One of the things that it discussed was symptoms of H1N1, which include fever, sore throat, coughing, chills, fatigue, body aches, headache, and occasionally vomiting and diarrhea.

Considering these symptoms, one has to wonder how you would ever be able to tell the difference between H1N1 and the regular flu, a fever, a cold, strep throat, etc. The list could go on forever. This is part of the reason I am so skeptical.

Another reason for my skepticism are the profits that drug companies are yielding from this "pandemic." According to a press release from Kalorama information, "few areas of pharmaceuticals have seen the fast-moving developments in the marketplace that the vaccine market has." The statistics for vaccine revenue are shocking.

Although I'm sure the families directly affected by H1N1 would disagree, the illness seems to have been blown completely out of proportion for the benefit of pharmaceutical companies and the government.

A friend of mine, a nurse, has even opted not to have the vaccine. She worries that the trial period for testing the vaccine has been to small. Historically, she argues, drugs that have been given tiny windows for testing and are still administered to patients, often result in serious side effects years later. The birth control method, Depro-Provera is a good example of one such drug which has been discontinued due to its damaging side effects.

Overall, I am looking at this flu from a perspective of suspicion. Perhaps I'll change my mind when I'm directly affected by H1N1. I'm sick right now, though. My symptoms include coughing, a sore throat, fatigue, aches and pains. So...does that mean I have H1N1?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

You know what really grinds my gears?

For my Public Relations class, we have to analyze the unethical business practices of a company. In my search for something current and relevant, I found an article on PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). It talks about how PETA spends more money on advertising and marketing than actually saving animal lives. They are faced with a dilemma, I suppose. How do they get the word out if they don't spend money on advertising? Okay. I get it.

However, according to the article, PETA has an annual budget of $32 million, and "has opted to 'put down' 21,339 adoptable dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens instead of finding homes for them." The hypocrisy is almost unbearable. Just down the road from PETA's head office is Virginia Beach's SPCA, which works on a far smaller "shoestring budget," and finds homes for almost all its animals with the help of dedicated staff members, donations, and volunteers.

One of the most shocking figures was that which states that PETA found homes for just 7 pets in all of 2008. It really makes you wonder what these "animal saviours" are doing with their budget. That doesn't even include the donations given to them by sponsors.

PETA has been the object of public scrutiny for quite some time. I, personally, never really understood it until I delved more deeply into their twisted world. They simply do not practice what they preach. No wonder they are in the unethical business lime light.

I am the last person to ever criticize a company for advocating for animal rights. I am an animal activist to the end, but doesn't this all seem a bit backwards? Doesn't it really grind YOUR gears?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Conceited Naked Apes

Back in University, I read a novel called "Wild Animals I Have Known" by Ernest Thompson Seton. The novel tells the story of eight different wild animals and their struggle to survive in the natural world. One of the main themes of the novel is the idea that animals have no soul, no intelligence and act simply on instincts.

I have often kept these ideas in the back of my mind, although I find it quite hard to come to terms with some of Seton's themes. One article, in particular, which I came across over the past several weeks was one in the 'Weekend Reader' of the Hamilton Spectator.

This article, on Australia's koala, discusses the decline in the animal's wild populations due to stress. STRESS! How can Seton argue that animals have no souls and no intelligence when they experience the same feelings we do? I think he was using this idea as more of a social critique because his novel does more to show how animals are just like us than to separate them from us.

After all, we are animals, right? Deep down, we are animals. Or, as Canadian animal rights and environmental activist Paul Watson would argue, "we're just a conceited naked ape, but in our minds we're some "divine legend" and we see ourselves as some sort of god, thinking we can decide what will live and what will die, what will be saved and what will be destroyed, but honestly, we're just a bunch of primates out of control." With that, I would agree.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Stephen Harper's Latest Antics

So...first he misses a UN meeting on world climate change to tour a Tim Hortons plant in Oakville. Now, he's singing Beatles songs with Yo Yo Ma. He's not the first party leader to pull something like this and he surely won't be the last. Maybe if he spent less time working on his singing and eating timbits, he'd have more time to talk about the global crisis our planet has been inevitably sinking into. After all, Canada's oil sands are one of the leading causes of greenhouse gases in the world. No amount of singing (despite my love for the Beatles and all good music, for that matter) will make me like this man. Perhaps his musical debut will spark a career change? One can only hope...

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why can't we get along if they can?

Watch this video!

Dog, Cat, and Rat

8 years?

So, I was reading this article tonight, about the "anti-terrorism" campaign in Afghanistan. US President Barack Obama is considering what new steps to take in the war which, as we all know, is worsening each day. What shocked me the most about the article was the line "the war has lasted longer than ever envisioned — eight years on Wednesday." I suppose I could have easily done the math myself, but I guess I never really thought about how long this "anti-terrorism" war has been going on for.

It's clear that something isn't working. Associated Press writer Ben Feller notes that at least 800 US soldiers have lost their lives in this war. That's not to mention countless Canadians and Afghani civilians. Although I understand that Obama has to make a very careful and calculated decision on what to do, I have to agree with Republican leader John Bohener when he says "we need to remember that every day that goes by, the troops that we do have there are in greater danger." Time is of the essence.

Ultimately, I still can't wrap my head around the concept of fighting terrorism with what can only be described as just that. The death toll from the events of September 11th are indeed astounding, reaching almost 3,000 deaths, but that certainly doesn't seem to justify the nearly 100, 000 killed in the so-called "war on terrorism."

The big question is, when is enough enough? How will killing 100,000 + people (our own soldiers, included) bring peace to the 3,000 victims of 9/11? It's the age-old problem of fighting fire with fire. The rest of the world knows it. According to Feller, "Public support for the war in Afghanistan is dropping. It stands at 40 percent, down from 44 percent in July, according to a new Associated Press-GfK poll."

If we have already all figured it out, why haven't any changes taken place? We do, after all, live in a democratic society, or so we think. Maybe if we stop procrastinating, people will stop dying. Only time will tell...